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New Arrivals

Who is eligible for a housing allocation or homelessness assistance?

This page is for new arrivals. If you are a housing adviser please click here for information more relevant to you.

What this page is about

This page describes how your immigration status or European Union rights determine if you are eligible:

Your rights to these depend on whether you are an EEA national or from outside the EEA. This page also tells you about your right to advice if you are at risk of becoming homeless and other ways to find housing if you aren’t eligible.

The right to advice and information for homeless people

Every local council must make sure that free advice and information is available to everyone in their area to help prevent you from becoming homelessness, if you are at risk, or help you find accommodation if you are actually homeless. This right is for everyone, regardless of immigration status or right to reside, and there are certain groups of people, such as those leaving hospital or council care, whom the council must make sure can access this advice and information.

British and Irish citizens and their family members

If you are a British or Irish citizen you are entitled to housing and assistance if you are homeless provided that you are habitually resident or if you have been deported or removed from another country to the UK. If you are the family member of a British or Irish citizen your rights depend on the immigration status you have: see the British and Irish family members page.

European nationals

If you are a European national (known here as EEA nationals) you are eligible for housing if:

  • you have been granted settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and you are ‘habitually resident’ in the British Isles or Ireland; or
  • until 30 June 2021, you have an EEA ‘right to reside’ that qualifies you for housing,

You have an EEA right to reside that qualifies you for housing if:

  • you are a worker or self-employed person.
  • you have retained your worker/self-employed status while being temporarily unable to work due to sickness or unemployment etc: see EEA workers and self-employed people.
  • in certain circumstances, you are studying or you are self-sufficient, provided also that you are habitually resident: see Other EEA nationals.
  • you have acquired the right to reside through long-term residence in which you were exercising one of the rights above and you are habitually resident.
  • you are the family member of an eligible EEA national who has one of the rights above (even if you are not an EEA national yourself).

In some cases, a person with an EEA right to reside must also be habitually resident. You aren’t eligible for housing if you have never worked in the UK, if you entered the UK looking for work, or if you have been looking for over six months – even though you have the right to continue living here: see EEA workers and self-employed people. If you were lawfully resident in the UK on 31 December 2020 and now fall within one of these categories, you should apply for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Although Britain has left the EU, your EEA rights continue until 30 June 2021. However, if you have not applied for settled or pre-settled status by that date (unless there is a good reason for a late application) you will lose your right to live in the UK and also your rights to housing and benefits. 

If you have pre-settled status, you will also need a qualifying right to reside (as explained above) to be eligible for housing and homelessness services.

People from outside the EEA

If you are a citizen of a country from outside the EEA, you are generally subject to immigration control and you are disqualified from help with housing, unless:

  • you are a refugee or you have been granted humanitarian protection or exceptional leave (with no conditions prohibiting you from applying for public funds) following your application for asylum;
  • you are an Afghan Interpreter who entered the UK under the special programme for support staff to UK forces and are habitually resident, provided your leave doesn’t include a no public funds condition;
  • you have limited leave to enter or remain granted on the basis of your family or private life and your leave is not subject to a no public funds condition;
  • you have been granted leave;
  • you were granted leave as an unaccompanied minor and are habitually resident;
  • you have five years limited leave as a stateless person provided also that you pass the habitual residence test;
  • you have indefinite leave to remain provided you pass the habitual residence test;
  • you have leave to remain as an EEA family member of a British or Irish citizen who is entitled to reside in Northern Ireland.

In any other case if you are from outside the EEA, including if you have limited leave you aren’t eligible for housing and homelessness help.

Other housing services for people who aren’t eligible

If you aren’t eligible for housing from the council you may be able to rent from a private landlord. In an emergency, you may be able to get accommodation from social services if you have social care needs or you are fleeing domestic violence. In any other case you may be able to get help from a charity if you are homeless and destitute.

Chartered Institute of Housing

More Information

Chartered Institute of Housing